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Advanced Science Aboard Station During Final Spacewalk Preps – October 21, 2014

The Expedition 41 crew is wrapping up preparations before Wednesday’s six hour Russian spacewalk and cleaning up after two U.S. spacewalks earlier this month. The station residents also pressed ahead with ongoing station maintenance and advanced microgravity science.

Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev are scheduled to open the Pirs docking compartment hatch to the vacuum of space Wednesday at 9:24 a.m. EDT to begin the third spacewalk for Expedition 41.

The spacewalkers will work outside the station’s Russian segment to jettison science and communications gear no longer being used. They will also remove a protective cover from a biological exposure experiment, collect samples of particulate matter on the Pirs docking compartment and photograph the station’s Russian exterior.

The duo reviewed their spacewalk plan one final time and completed the setup of the Pirs airlock. German astronaut Alexander Gerst helped ready the Russian segment for the spacewalk when he closed the hatch to Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 which is docked to the Zvezda service module.

Gerst who is from the European Space Agency started his day in Japan’s Kibo laboratory replacing the water in the station’s fish tank, also known as the Aquatic Habitat. The tank supports observations of Zebrafish so scientists can study how microgravity affects muscles. Gerst then moved on to a vision test checking his visual acuity, visual field and contrast sensitivity.

NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Reid Wiseman worked in the Quest airlock cleaning up after a pair of spacewalks conducted over two weeks. They took turns scrubbing the cooling loops on the U.S. spacesuits and collecting water samples from the loops.

Wilmore also had time for some medical science work. He collected blood and urine samples and stowed them inside a science freezer for later analysis. Wiseman worked on plumbing in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. He also assisted Gerst during his vision test checking his intraocular pressure for the Ocular Health study.

Cosmonaut Elena Serova worked throughout Tuesday helping Suraev and Samokutyaev get ready for Russia’s 40th spacewalk at the International Space Station. She also continued more dust filter replacement and fan screen cleaning activities.

The next trio to live and work at the space station are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan preparing for final qualification exams. Expedition 42/43 crew members Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti are due to launch Nov. 23 for a six hour ride to the orbital laboratory.

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